Abu Dhabi apparently offering COVID vaccines to tourists

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The capital of the United Arab Emirates has apparently started offering free coronavirus vaccines to tourists flying into the emirate, a move that could entice travelers and help revive the country’s struggling tourism industry.

While Abu Dhabi has made no official announcement on the matter, the health authority’s phone application shows updated criteria for vaccine access today, saying visitors to the capital could now get the COVID-19 shot by presenting their passports.

Passport holders must be eligible for entry visas on arrival, the guidelines say, without offering further information. Previously, vaccine recipients in the emirate had to show proof of Emirati residency. The UAE’s government-run media office doesn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abu Dhabi will lift mandatory quarantine measures on travelers from an approved list of countries starting July 1.

The federation of seven sheikhdoms boasts among the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world, with 14.6 million doses administered to its population of over 9 million. The country has relied heavily on China’s state-backed Sinopharm shot and even started manufacturing Sinopharm earlier this year. Abu Dhabi and the nearby emirate of Dubai also offer the Pfizer-BioNtech shot. Since March, everyone over age 16 in the country has been eligible to get the vaccine.

With its small population and ample vaccine supply, the UAE has sent free vaccine shipments to places that need them, such as Egypt, the Gaza Strip and the Indian Ocean island nation of the Seychelles.

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